The WGA has a pretty solid track record at predicting Oscar winners, though as far as
David O. Russell and Eric Singer for "American Hustle"; perennial fave Woody Allen with his 21st nom, "Blue Jasmine"; Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack, "Dallas Buyers Club"; Spike Jonze, "Her"; and Bob Nelson, "Nebraska."
Adapted screenplay: Tracy Letts, "August: Osage County"; Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, "Before Midnight"; Billy Ray, "Captain Phillips"; Peter Berg, "Lone Survivor"; and Terence Winter, "The Wolf of Wall Street."
Many of these contenders will be mentioned again when Oscar noms are announced Jan. 16. But there will undoubtedly be some changes, due to Writers Guild restrictions. Under guild rules, the only eligible scripts are ones produced under WGA jurisdiction or under a collective bargaining agreement in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand or the U.K. This year, the WGA declared more than a dozen high-profile scripts ineligible (Variety, Dec. 3).
Among the writers whose scripts were omitted from WGA consideration, but are eligible for Academy nominations were two high-profile ones: John Ridley, "12 Years a Slave" and Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, "Philomena." Also ineligible were Ryan Coogler, "Fruitvale Station"; William Nicholson, "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom"; Peter Morgan, "Rush"; Destin Cretton, "Short Term 12â³; and two foreign-language entries, Abdellatif Kechiche and Ghalia Lacroix for "Blue Is the Warmest Color" and Asghar Farhadi, "The Past."
The eligible original screenplays
Guild execs are adamant that their eligibility rules will remain in place, saying there are many reasons to keep them.
But as a sidelight, the rules ARE a factor in Oscar predictions. With last year's nominations
In the original category, it was three out of the five: "Flight," "Moonrise Kingdom" and "Zero Dark Thirty." But WGA contenders "Looper" and "The Master" missed out on Oscar, which instead honored
The eligibility question also figures in the outcome. Last year, Mark Boal won the WGA original screenplay prize for "Zero Dark Thirty," but Quentin Tarantino took the Oscar for "Django Unchained," which had been ineligible for WGA. (Chris Terrio won both for adapting "Argo.") In the past 19 winners, WGA and Oscar matched 12 times in the original-screenplay race, 14 times in adapted.
On Friday, the Writers Guild also unveiled its five contenders for documentary screenplay. For documakers, the WGA's continued recognition is itself a triumph, acknowledging that documentaries are in fact written and not just "assembled." The guild's lineup also underlines how diverse a year this is for docus, since the roster has very little overlap with the nominees from IDA, the Indie Spirits and the Producers Guild of America.
The docu script nominees are Jeremy Scahill and David Riker, "Dirty Wars"; Sara Lukinson and Michael Stevens, "Herblock - The Black & The White"; Janet Tobias and Paul Laikin, "No Place on Earth"; Sarah Polley, "Stories We Tell"; and Alex Gibney, "We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks."
Results were based on voting by the WGA's 12,000 members. The awards show will be held Feb. 1 with simultaneous ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York.
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